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Last updated: February 19. 2013 11:31PM - 202 Views

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NEW ORLEANS — Nasty weather, including a chance of strong tornadoes and howling thunderstorms, could be on the way for Christmas Day along the Gulf Coast from east Texas to north Florida.


The storms will hold off long enough to let Christmas Eve bonfires light the way for Pere Noel along the Mississippi River, officials said.


Farther north, much of Oklahoma and Arkansas were under a winter storm warning, with freezing rain, sleet and snow expected on Christmas. A blizzard watch is out for western Kentucky. No matter what form it takes, travel today could be dangerous, meteorologists said.


The storms could bring strong tornadoes or winds of more than 75 mph, heavy rain, quarter-sized hail and dangerous lightning in Louisiana and Mississippi, the National Weather Service said. The greatest risk is in areas north of Interstates 10 and 12, with the worst storms likely along and southeast of a line from Winnsboro, La., to Jackson and DeKalb, Miss., according to the weather service's Jackson office.


We understand that most people will be focusing on the holiday, said Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant. Please plan now for how you will receive a severe weather warning, and know where you will go when it is issued. It only takes a few minutes, and it will help everyone have a safe Christmas.


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